News that the EC has placed at least some sort of cap on International GSM roaming charges will not come soon enough for firms heartily sick of paying over the odds for travelling employees' mobile phone bills.
Although the fairness of charges which will still peak at 32p a minute remains open to debate given the hefty price reductions in fixed line and voice over IP (VoIP) minutes being seen elsewhere.
And considering that many of the new regulations will not come into force until September 2007, it seems that mobile operators will still have at least another year to fleece paying customers while they still can.
There is an argument to suggest that operators, like most other businesses (and certainly the telecoms market at least), charged only what the market would bear, however. The reason they got away with it for so long is that fixed line international calls from hotel rooms attracted the sort of premium that required a King's ransom to pay.
On the other hand, business travellers who had the time, or could be bothered to save their employers expenses rather than their own, could have brought a phone card from the nearest kiosk for a fraction of the price.
What the mobile phone brought was increased speed and instant convenience to business travellers who no longer even had to work out the complexities of obtaining an outside line before dialling out, albeit at a disproportionately high price.
As always, the willingness to shop around combined with a little local knowledge are consistently the best defence against being hit too hard in the pocket during any business sojourn.
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